Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology has been around in commercial space since the 1970s and has become ubiquitous to the point where most people anticipate it when calling company phone numbers. While the sound of an IVR was once a precursor to frustration, fortunately IVR technology has come a long way over the decades, especially today, with the dawning of the era of Intelligent Virtual Agents, which can further automate IVR processes and allow for easy self-service.
But first, some history.
History of IVR
In the early days, IVRs were essentially automatic switchboards. They directed phone calls based on the caller’s selections and did little else. It reduced costs, but it also gave IVRs a bad reputation, causing users to think of the technology as a confusing maze of options, often leading to a dead end or an agent that was unable to help them.
Fortunately, IVR technology has expanded and improved, enabling them to do more jobs, and to do them better.
Modern, Automated IVRs
Today IVRs have a wider range of functions, allowing callers to complete self-service tasks through integration with CRMs and other systems. This is what we’re talking about when we talk about IVR automation.
Using an automated IVR, callers can input information or request information. In return, the IVR can present dynamic information in real-time, such as account balances or card activation statuses. IVR automation has a wide variety of use cases for industries including healthcare, financial services, and utilities.
Because IVRs can interface with phone systems the same way that a web browser interfaces with the internet, they can be used to retrieve or send data from your databases, creating a streamlined user experience in which self-service is an intuitive and efficient process. Studies have shown that over 40% of customers prefer self-service options to speaking to a live agent. An IVR gives these customers 24/7 access to complete these tasks.
IVAs and the Future of Automation
As artificial intelligence (AI) technology moves forward at a blazing pace, many contact centers are taking advantage of intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) to further streamline the self-service options available to their callers.
In the simplest terms, an IVA is an automated version of a customer service agent. It leads an intelligent conversation with customers, responds to their questions, and performs adequate non-verbal behavior.
IVAs can determine caller intent through conversational AI and quickly shorten the amount of time required for customers to get answers needed to resolve issues. Customers can describe in their own words what they need and be directed to the right self-service solution to minimize customer frustration and deliver a better customer experience. Gartner research found that 70% of companies that implement an IVA achieve up to a 70% reduction in contact inquiries while seeing an improvement in customer satisfaction.
Are you ready to implement an automated IVR in your contact center? Contact a Plum Voice representative today.